Unless you've invested in a temperature-controlled wine cellar, chances are you've been drinking your reds far too warm. It's a common myth that red wine should be enjoyed at room temperature; though it usually isn't chilled outright, it should be kept within a range of 52 to 65 degrees, not only for preservation but also for drinkability. Considering that the average household is kept between 68 and 77 degrees and wine cellars run several hundred dollars even for small models, I'm sure I'm not the only one to forgo the proper temperature control for sheer convenience and practicality. A pair of Canadian entrepreneurs have brought us a solution: the Ravi Instant Wine Refresher ($31.50 at giftedgrape.com).
The Ravi Instant Wine Refresher (gimmicky name aside) is a small twist-on unit that's kept in the freezer to chill before use. The wine is forced to pass through a stainless steel coiled chamber (which is designed to not interfere with the wine's subtleties and flavors) and chill en route to your glass—essentially, within seconds. It takes longer to pour than you'd think, but the Ravi offers an interesting amount of control. It's intended for reds, but by placing your finger on the side valve, you can force white wines to stay in the cooling chamber for a bit longer, thus getting to their optimal temperature. Since different varietals taste better at slightly different temperatures, connoisseurs will enjoy that subtle control once they get the hang of using it.
With time, the chilling power wears off, but overall you can rely on the Ravi to stay cold for an hour or a little longer. As the effect starts to wear, you can still cool down your wine by keeping it in the valve for a little longer—good to keep in mind if you're planning to serve lots of guests four glasses a wine over several hours at a Seder next week. Also good to know: It works well enough if you can only freeze it for a short amount of time—perfect for a quick fix or mid-meal re-charge.
So how different does red wine taste when it's chilled? Think about vodka (which, incidentally, can also be chilled with the Ravi)—you'd be happy to drink a good one straight up, but even those are far more smooth and drinkable when served at the right temperature. Side by side experiments with a cheap but perfectly drinkable bottle of Yellowtail Pinot Noir showed how much more velvety a glass could be at just a few degrees lower than room temperature. Plus, you'll get points with guests for having the savvy to open their eyes.